Global Politics Paper 1


Study Groups
Few past papers exist for Global Politics, as it is a new course, but this should not prevent us from practising! The best way to practise for Paper 1 is by making your own past papers, or doing so in study groups. I was very fortunate in my DP school, to have three or four students consistently scoring 6s and 7s in Global Politics. We had a study group and we would often ask each other Paper 1 style questions. I would recommend identifying students with a similar level to you early on and form a study group with them as soon as you can. Try to talk about global politics with these friends during lunch times and set aside 30 minutes to an hour each week to practise for Paper 1 together.

Types of Questions
These are not difficult to make at all, because there is a pattern in what questions IB seems to ask. For those of you taking History (SL or HL), these questions are apparently very similar to History P1.

- Question 1 (3 marks) is an “identify” question, where you are asked to summarise what someone or some organisation is saying. The source can either be a picture or a news article excerpt.

- Question 2 (4 marks) is an “explain with explicit reference to the source” question. The source is often a picture or diagram, and you are required to both use the source and draw from your own knowledge. This question requires a particular skill in looking for deeper meanings within an image.

- Question 3 (8 marks) is a “compare” and/or “contrast” question. You are asked to identify underlying similarities and differences between the approaches of two sources. It is often strategic to list more than 4 points of comparison or contrast, so you can gain a mark even if one of your points isn’t on the markscheme. My tip here is not to get too bogged down on the details - you should compare/contrast based on approaches as listed on the learning outcomes - not based on smaller details.

- Question 4 (10 marks) is often an “evaluate”, or an “analyse” question, which really requires you to write a shorter version of a Paper 2 essay. The only other substantial difference to a Paper 2 is that you MUST mention the sources - you should try to make use of all the sources if you can. I often practised for this question whilst practising for Paper 2 - for instance, try making a P2-style question, read 1 or 2 articles about it, then write an essay within 35-40 minutes, partly using examples from the sources.

News Articles

We don’t need a textbook - the news is our textbook
— An IB student, before the Global Politics textbooks were published

Since a large part of Paper 1 is reading sources, you need to make sure you practise reading a variety of different analytical sources. In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether you see yourself as left or right wing (whatever these terms mean anyway) - Global Politics is not really about arguing on the prescriptive views of society (the way things ought to be). The syllabus is carefully designed so you address the questions descriptively and analytically (on how things are). This means that you should focus less of your time on arguing about matters such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and medicare. Rather, you should try to pry open the implicit assumptions within the arguments. For instance, the key, implicit argument in the same-sex marriage debate is on claims surrounding what should and should not be the limit for the “right to marriage”. Nobody disputes that marriage is a right - rather, those on the right tend to believe that “marriage” is defined as between a man and a woman - they do not negate that the right to marriage is a human right.

However, Global Politics in the IB is most concerned with interstate relations. It does have some sections here and there (such as “claims on human rights” and parts of the “development” unit) concerned with domestic politics, but in terms of the bigger picture, most questions in Paper 1 are descriptive (i.e. “Identify three claims made by Obama regarding Human Rights”), and do not require you to take a side on how domestic politics ought to be.

Therefore, reading widely is necessary - you need to understand the views of the many actors domestically and internationally - your task is to construct arguments about arguments, as it were, rather than simply to argue about politics in your own country.

Examples of more analytical sources: Reuters, Vox News, Al Jazeera

Finally, for those taking Language B, try to read sources in your second language - it really cuts down studying time and exposes you to a range of different sources. For instance, if you take Spanish B, it would make sense to read about the Catalonian Independence movement on El País.


Question 2 Practice is best done on Instagram

Usually (though not always) P1 Q2 is an image. For me, this was often the most difficult question, as getting all 4 points was tricky. (I mean Q4 is quite hard, but you get loads of practice for it because it’s so similar to P2). You have to identify a political issue highlighted by the image and go sufficiently deep in your own knowledge to earn that extra mark for each of the 2 points you give.

Unlike the other, text-based questions, reading the news on BBC or al-Jazeera hardly helps in this question - but instagram really helps.

1. Follow the following political accounts:


2. Look through images in your free time

3. Try to link the images, first with the key concepts, then with the learning outcomes

4. Try to ask yourself Question 2 style questions

5. Collaborate with friends to ask each other questions.